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SABC confirms status as Govt’s propaganda machine, not public broadcaster

For a very brief period when South Africa transitioned from Apartheid to Democracy, the national broadcaster was truly worthy of that title. I saw it from close up, having the privilege of serving at the SABC between 1991 and 1994. It was an exciting time. Old rulers had lost their power and the new ones were not yet represented in the building. The news flow was hectic. It is true that we did hold back some material, but only because of its graphic content. As a national broadcaster should, we broadcast footage of the Boipatong massacre, the bakkie invasion of Bophuthatswana, the deadly ongoing war between the “Comrades” and “Impis”, and much else that wouldn’t get onto the airwaves under the SABC’s latest edict. Politicians are in the business of acquiring and retaining power. News organisations are in the business of reflecting reality to keep those with vested interests in check. When such institutions supplicate to the whim of those in Government, they become no better than propaganda machines. And agents in a process where power corrupts, absolute power corrupting absolutely. – Alec Hogg

By Lizeka Tandwa

Johannesburg – The SABC’s decision to stop broadcasting images of violent protests smacks of autocracy and is deeply patronising, Cosatu said on Monday.

Once again, Zapiro's pics tell the story better than 1000 words. More of his magic on Zapiro.com
Once again, Zapiro’s cartoon says more than 1000 words. More of his magic is on Zapiro.com

The broadcaster was assuming South Africans were “impressionable and imbecilic citizens” who needed protection from “barbaric visuals”, the trade union federation said in a statement.

It wanted the SABC’s board to reconsider the decision and tell South African stories uncensored, warts and all.

“We are not a nanny state and therefore do not need an overprotective public broadcaster to take care of us. What we have seen and learned is that once censorship starts, it never stops because those who are empowered to censor and impose blackouts, start to develop bottomless sensitivities and discover more activities that they feel should not be flighted on television,” it said.

Cosatu said the fight against apartheid was also against censorship and news sanitisation. The SABC had to operate independently from all party political, factional and commercial interests.

“South Africans deserve to have access to all the available information including the negative stories, so that they can be empowered to reach their full potential as active citizens.”

If the decision was not reversed, the SABC’s mandarins would manipulate news coverage and blacklist organisations, individuals and communities, Cosatu said.

The SABC needed to deepen its accountability to its audiences and to the general public, it said.

The SABC announced last week that it had stopped television broadcasts of violent anti-government protests. It said it was doing so in a bid to discourage others from similar acts.

The public broadcaster urged other media houses to follow its decision. – News24

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sabc-decision-deeply-patronising-cosatu-20160530

SA editors slam SABC decision to ban coverage of violent protests

Johannesburg – The SABC’s decision not to broadcast footage of the destruction of property during news bulletins was nothing less than censorship, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) said on Monday.

Read the full statement below:

The announcement by the SABC that it would henceforth not broadcast footage of “destruction of property” during news bulletins is unfortunate and shocking. Whilst it is every media house’s prerogative to formulate editorial policy about what to publish or broadcast, such policy, in line with the public mandate of media, has to be in the public interest.

Thus, many media houses would not publish or broadcast pictures and footage of dead bodies or what the Broadcast Complaints Commission of SA calls “gratuitous violence”. However, the stand taken by the SABC amounts to censorship and must be condemned.

No right-thinking person would support the destruction of public facilities in the name of protest, and all media houses in this country have condemned such vandalism, but reporting on such acts in their fullest possible way by the media allows South Africans to know what is happening. What the SABC has decided to do is sanitise the news and [it] is a disservice to the South African public.

This country has been here before, when the apartheid regime blamed media and particularly TV cameras for the spreading nationwide uprisings of the time. It ended with the police barring journalists from areas where protests were taking place. A picture of false peace was being manufactured. The SABC followed the government dictate at the time.

They failed then to mislead and hide information as people lost all confidence in the news provided by the SABC and instead turned to newspapers and foreign media for a true picture of what was happening. The SABC changed from being the mouthpiece of government when democracy dawned, and this unfortunate decision returns the broadcaster into a past it should not be associated with.

Sanef consulted with the Acting Group CEO Jimmi Matthews and expressed our shock and displeasure at the decision. We also indicated that we believe the decision should be rescinded without delay. – News24

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sa-editors-slam-sabc-decision-to-ban-coverage-of-violent-protests-20160530-3

Minister welcomes SABC’s broadcast ban on violent protests

Lizeka Tandwa

Johannesburg – Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has welcomed the decision by the SABC to stop broadcasting violent protests.

A demonstrator gestures in front of a burning portaloo during a protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside the Union building in Pretoria, South Africa October 23, 2015. South African police fired stun grenades at students who lit fires outside President Jacob Zuma's offices following a week of protests, the first signs of the post-apartheid 'Born Free' generation flexing its muscle. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A demonstrator gestures in front of a burning portaloo during a protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside the Union building in Pretoria, South Africa 2015. South African police fired stun grenades at students who lit fires outside President Jacob Zuma’s offices following a week of protests, the first signs of the post-apartheid ‘Born Free’ generation flexing its muscle. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The communications ministry said it respected the SABC’s editorial independence and welcomed any positive action “that seeks to condemn the vandalising of infrastructure and the destruction of schools, and public infrastructure”.

Muthambi said one of the SABC mandates was to prioritise nation building and the promotion of social cohesion. She said she believed the decision was taken in the spirit of social cohesion and nation building, and not censorship, as purported.

“…It is our belief that the decision by the public broadcaster not to show footage of people burning public institutions, such as schools and libraries, in any of its news bulletins, will go a long way to discourage attention-seeking anarchists,” Muthambi said in a statement on Monday.

The SABC announced last week that it had stopped television broadcasts of violent anti-government protests flaring up around the country, in a bid to discourage others from carrying out similar forms of violence.

‘Backdoor censorship’

The public broadcaster also urged other media houses to stand in solidarity with their decision.

Several political parties as well as NGOs have condemned the decision calling it backdoor censorship.

Busi Mtabane, spokesperson for the Right2Know Campaign, told Al Jazeera the move signalled a return to apartheid times, when the national broadcaster was a mouthpiece for the ruling party.

Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), said the move was an attempt to “bring censorship [in] through the backdoor”.

The decision by the SABC follows months of violent protest across the country. – News24

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/minister-welcomes-sabcs-broadcast-ban-on-violent-protests-20160530

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